Search This Blog

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Strong Justice by Jon Land

Strong Justice features fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong.  Caitlin is investigating the murders of young Mexican women, victims of a zealot by the name of Macerio.  When the son of her boyfriend is arrested after rescuing a kidnapped victim, Caitlin finds the case becoming dangerously personal.  There are several subplots that have interconnections.

The Texas Rangers are part of Texas fact and legend.  Originally, Stephen F. Austin employed 10 men in 1823 to "range" over a huge area and protect  new settlers to Texas.  In 1835, the Rangers were formally constituted and have earned both a reputation and a mythology for their ability to deal with Indians, bandits, smugglers, and assorted bad guys, and to restore law and order in frontier towns.

I've always had a certain fascination with the the Texas Rangers; there is definitely an aura of independence and courage in their exploits, even if their actions in earlier times often omitted standard legal procedures.  Today, the Rangers are part of the Texas Department of Public Safety and work with local sheriffs and police departments as well as the FBI and other U.S. and International crime fighting agencies.

This book, however, is more like the pulp fiction that helped build the Rangers' reputation in the 1800's than a realistic look at modern day Rangers-- which is a shame because the problems discussed are real.  Young Mexican women are sold into prostitution (AP article on the topic), corruption, drugs, and murder  have made areas along the border extremely dangerous.

Caitlin Strong is depicted as almost invincible, a kind of Wonder Woman.  There is no doubt that the author admires the Texas Rangers,  but I would have preferred a more realistic account of the very human Rangers who deal with some of the above problems.  The Mayan connection just seemed a bit silly, and Macerio's "blood border" was a too much.  Inspired, no doubt, by the real murders of women in Ciudad Jurarez since the 1990's, it bothered me that in the novel, the murderer had such an "elevated" agenda. 

It is kind of funny that I adore Lee Childs' Jack Reacher, who is no more realistic than Caitlin, but still wasn't drawn to the characters in this novel.

Fiction.  Crime.  2010. 349 pages.


  1. I can understand where you are coming from, Jenclair. I prefer my protagonist to be on the realistic side. It's an interesting premise just the same, and as you said, the issues involved are very real today.

  2. I wasn't aware of this series featuring a female Ranger. I'll have to see if I can find the first book in the series - think this is the second.

    My mystery book group is talking with Kathryn Casey, author of another series featuring a female Texas Ranger, in February. The first book is SINGULARITY and I really enjoyed it. There are 3 books in that series so far.

    My father was a career Texas DPS officer. He was not a Ranger, but when he retired, they made him a Special Ranger. It was a kind of honorary title, but did carry some clout here in Texas. Being a native Texan, I have had a longtime fascination with the Rangers and their whole legend. Female Rangers are still few and far between. :-)

  3. LF - One of the other issues raised involved water and the fact that the West and Southwest already have issues concerning lack of water. Not that issues with water aren't an issue that many other areas are facing.

    Yes, Jon Land includes many real issues facing society, but somehow the story appealed less than the real issues.

    Kay - If you begin with the first book, I'll be eager to hear what you think. I'm impressed that your father was honored with a Special Ranger title. It says a lot for his character!

    I'll look for Singularity because the Texas Rangers still appeal to me, and I'd like to see how Casey approaches the subject matter.